The 2020 United States elections have seen unprecedented drama, uncertainty, divisiveness, and controversy. As we gradually begin to gain a clearer picture of the outcome, it’s time to ask ourselves, ‘what have we learned so far?’
Election night saw no clear winner between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, as counting has continued over the following days. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, mail-in ballots were used on a much wider scale than ever before. While Joe Biden encouraged his supporters to cast their votes by mail, President Trump urged Republican voters to turn out at the polls in person.
Since in most cases ballots cast in polling stations on election day were counted first, this resulted in early figures showing Donald Trump leading the presidential race across several battleground states. However, once mail-in ballots began to be tallied up, momentum in many of these states swung in Biden’s favor. Although the count is not yet complete in states such as Nevada, Arizona, Georgia, and Pennsylvania, it appears that Joe Biden will now win the presidential election.
Controversy and legal challenges
Despite the apparent outcome now favoring Joe Biden, President Trump prematurely declared himself the winner on the night of the election. In the chaos and uncertainty of the prolonged election count, and with the remaining postal ballots tending not to favor him, the incumbent president and many of his supporters have called for a halt to remaining ballots being counted in certain states.
He has accused his opponents of electoral fraud on a massive scale. This is an issue that he frequently alluded to in the lead-up to the election, despite no evidence of such fraud having been presented as yet. Many supporters of the president have turned up outside vote-counting facilities demanding that the allegedly fraudulent mail-in ballots not be counted. Furthermore, in several key states, including Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, Donald Trump has declared his intention to challenge the election results in court.
Questions must be raised over how a peaceful transfer of power can take place should the outcome end up unfavorable to the incumbent.
Long delays exacerbate tensions
One important element that has become increasingly obvious during the 2020 elections is the need for a more efficient system for counting votes. Much of the current chaos could be spared in future elections through alternative solutions that maximize the chance of knowing the outcome on election night.
A possible solution to this could be for mail-in ballots to be counted earlier. Another option, although it is not without flaws, could be electronic voting, which already exists in some countries. most notably Estonia, where citizens have had the option to vote online since 2005.
Regardless of what future measures are taken to ensure that elections run more smoothly, the delays with counting that we have witnessed are certainly undesirable and have exacerbated tensions among a deeply polarized electorate.
Drug legalization: the only clear winner
Despite the drama of the presidential race, an important point that should not go unnoticed is a major step forward in ending the war on drugs. Across several states, legal measures to decriminalize marijuana, for medicinal and recreational purposes, have been approved.
In Washington D.C., Initiative 81 was approved by the electorate, decriminalizing the use of psychedelic drugs, including magic mushrooms. While Mississippi voted to legalize the use of medicinal marijuana, recreational marijuana has now been legalized in Montana, South Dakota, Arizona, and New Jersey.
However, the 2020 elections mark an extremely important milestone in the efforts to end the war on drugs in Oregon, where voters approved Measure 110, effectively decriminalizing possession of small amounts of any drug for personal use, including cocaine and heroin.
These votes to approve measures of drug policy reform highlight a turning tide against the costly, ineffective, and harmful war on drugs.
To read more content on the 2020 United States presidential election, check out our blog on what candidates have said on a range of important issues by clicking on the button below.
This piece solely expresses the opinion of the author and not necessarily the organization as a whole. Students For Liberty is committed to facilitating a broad dialogue for liberty, representing a variety of opinions.